Venezuela’s vice-president has said that President Hugo Chavez, who underwent surgery for cancer in Cuba for a fourth time, is “completely conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state”. In a televised interview in Cuba, Maduro said he had met Chavez twice and that the president seemed to have “the same strength as always”. Maduro’s comments came amid rumours, some of which circulated online, that Chavez’s health had deteriorated and that he was in coma. “All the time we’ve been hoping for his positive evolution. Sometimes he has had light improvements, sometimes stationary situations,” Maduro said in the prerecorded interview, which was broadcast on Tuesday night by the Caracas-based television network Telesur. “I was able to see him twice, converse with him. He’s totally conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state and he expressly asked us … to keep the nation informed always, always with the truth, as hard as it may be in certain circumstances,” said Maduro who was handpicked by the president before he travelled for Cuba for his latest round of surgery. Maduro, who is returning to Venezuela on Wednesday, did not discuss the January 10 inauguration plans for the president who won re-election last October, saying only that he was hopeful Chavez would improve. The news may help dispel rumours that Maduro’s visit was a sign that the former soldier was near death.